Getting a low appraisal for a property is one of the most frustrating components brokers face in a transaction, especially when both parties have already agreed on a price for the home. When a homebuyer and seller are moving through the purchase process, a low appraisal could potentially derail the deal.
There are several reasons why an appraisal could come in lower than expected. The appraiser might not have done a thorough job or might not know the area well enough to provide an accurate assessment of home values. Or, the home itself legitimately could be worth less than the parties would expect.
After receiving a low appraisal, there are steps that brokers can take, including getting the appraisal adjusted, having the buyer apply for a loan with a different lender, asking the buyer and seller to agree to a new price or requesting that the buyer put down a higher down payment.
But the best solution is to avoid a low appraisal all together. At AgentEDU, we study the techniques used by the top brokers in the industry and share their best practices. We found most brokers can avoid the problem of a low appraisal if they follow these six steps.
This first step seems like the most obvious, but the details on how a home looks both inside and out — can make a significant impact on the final appraisal. Leave the home staged, make sure it looks clean and keep up the curb appeal. Even though appraisers will look at much more beyond the cosmetic details, it doesn’t hurt to put a home’s best side forward. Appealing to the natural human tendencies of an appraiser will help show that a home is desirable and valuable.
Brokers may be tempted to have someone let an appraiser in the door and wait around until they finish, but having the selling broker be present at the appraisal can make a difference in the final value. It lets the appraiser know you’re a serious agent and want to be helpful in the process. But, don’t be too overbearing or make the appraiser think you don’t trust their work. Let them do their job, but support them in the process.
When the selling agent arrives for the appraisal, they should also be prepared with information about the property and anything the appraiser might need. Keep a detailed binder with any and all relevant information, including comps with the address, square footage, number of rooms, a selection of photos and more. If the appraiser is pulling information from a database, their findings may be inaccurate. Provide them with up-to-date information instead.
By connecting with the appraiser, you remind them that you aren’t just a commissioned salesperson who’s just looking to get the most from a sale. Dress casually — not like you are entering a high-powered negotiation. Engage in conversation with the appraiser, know their name and show respect. A little kindness can go a long way.
Ask the appraiser questions about where they are from and what parts of Chicagoland they typically work in. If your appraiser is someone who normally works in your area, then they will have a good understanding of the local market and provide a fair appraisal. If the appraiser is new to the area or doesn’t typically work in the neighborhood, take this opportunity to provide the appraiser with details they may not be aware of. Remember: always be respectful and share knowledge in the spirit of collaboration.
Appraisers are generally happy to have someone to talk to about their findings and confirm the information they’ve gathered so far. Once the appraisal is finished, be sure to thank them for their time and effort, and present them with the binder of information you’ve gathered along with all of your contact information. The appraiser will be impressed by the effort you put into being prepared and knowledgeable about the property and will appreciate the information you’ve provided.
As a broker on the buyer side, you have less control when it comes to the final appraisal. But one of the best ways to avoid any problems is to include an appraisal contingency clause in the contract. This will allow you to either renegotiate or withdraw from the contract if necessary.
Low appraisals happen even when very experienced brokers are involved. Use these tips to help avoid appraisal issues. If you do get a low appraisal, do you best to keep the deal together, keep your clients from getting too stressed out and bring the sale to a smooth closing.
For tips on all facets of your real estate business, look to AgentEDU.com to help you learn exactly what you need to create a thriving real estate career.